10.17.2004Let me first say that I rarly disagree with Ebert's reviews, and often I find his own insights and takes on movies very interesting. Every once in a while he makes a grave mistake, however. He did it before by giving thumbs down to Fight Club. He did it again this time with Team America.
"I wasn't offended by the movie's content so much as by its nihilism. At a time when the world is in crisis and the country faces an important election, the response of Parker, Stone and company is to sneer at both sides -- indeed, at anyone who takes the current world situation seriously. They may be right that some of us are puppets, but they're wrong that all of us are fools, and dead wrong that it doesn't matter."
I dont want to say he missed the point, because Ebert is a smart man with a decent sense of humor. What I think he misses, though, is the ability to see it from the point of view of the nihilists. They sneer at those who take a situation seriously in times of crisis because taking things seriously is what causes crises. This movie was filled with people who took themselves too seriously- the actors, the fearless leader, Team America, and the terrorists. And they were the ones causing the panic and crisis that they also felt responsible to stop (or continue, depending on which side they were on). But there were plenty of other characters in the movie- for instance, in Cairo or Paris or the Panama Canal, there were all the people, the citizens, who stood their stupidly with their jaws hanging open as these heroes (or bad guys) destroyed their world.
And there is only two responses to this sort of situation. The first is to keep standing there, with your jaw hanging open, trying to even make sense of what is going on; which is ultimately hopeless and results in nothing more than the sphynx falling on your head. Or you can sneer and laugh at those who are causing the terror and crises, hoping that they'll develop a sense of humor so that they stop taking things seriously and stop destroying their world.